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About Deviant Ed ThomasMale/United Kingdom Groups :iconalternate-worlds: Alternate-Worlds
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“You had better have one King than five hundred”


“Just a bit of fun! Just a bit of fun!”

The TV burbled away to itself in the corner of the living room as the candidate paced back and forth. He wished he could be back in the serene Cotswold countryside, but Jeffrey had been insistent; the Republic’s first directly-elected President under the new constitution should see the election out in the capital. So here he was, staying in Roy’s Hampstead home, wondering if he’d be spending the next evening in the grimy, half-abandoned shell of Buckingham Palace.

He hated London. It’s never really recovered from the war, he thought; the old buildings are derelict and the new ones are horrible modernist aberrations. Sometimes he could weep at what had been done to the city in the name of socialist ‘progress’. What was wrong with facades, curves, arches? There were some nice areas- he smiled as he thought of the lovely half-timbered arts and crafts homes on Highgate Hill- but even these were soot-blackened by the capital’s killer smog, and as for what the air did to all that exposed concrete in London’s newer buildings… No more grotesque concrete stumps, a Clean Air Act and a dose of village life; that’s the way to renew the capital.

The television- an American model brought across especially to take advantage of the new colour broadcasts- flashed up a picture of one of his rivals, and he turned to Roy, who was pouring himself a glass of claret. “Do we have any projections for the Lenin fellow?” he asked.

Jeffrey smirked as he talked over his host. “We have reports of unusually strong turnout in the Yorkshire mining towns- but not for him.”

Roy eventually got a word in edgeways; not normally a problem he had to face. “They say he’s stwuggling to bweak out of his Merseyside base…” he began, but the candidate paid little attention to the reply; the television image had shifted again to an image of the Wellington Arch on Hyde Park Corner, and the sight stirred an old memory of driving past in the back of a car as they left London, his father shouting angrily about the fucking reds having already killed half his family, his mother staring out of the window, gripping his hand so hard it hurt.

He was too young to remember what had triggered the panic, really; perhaps it was when the bombs first dropped on Shanghai and Peking, or perhaps when Hull went up in the second, more general conflagration. It was probably when the T-54s reached the Channel, he thought; by that point it was obvious the war was over.

It was his last memory of Britain as a boy; his only memory of Britain, really, for thirty years; after that it was Toronto, then Harvard. His business and charitable work had kept him busy after that, not to mention Margaret, who had followed him from Canada, but he still cast mournful eyes across the Atlantic; there were fundraisers here, discreet meetings with diplomats and potential defectors there… he had kept a presence at home, even if it was a subtle and timid one.  Britain had never been quite so under the thumb as the Continent of course, yet the National Government had no desire to stir up trouble by letting somebody like him back into their country.

But then the Soviets began to choke on the massive prize they had won. Holding down a resentful continent had bankrupted them, just as dear Gregory had predicted; he had been there that day in Reykjavik when the President had given the best performance of his life, better than anything the Academy had ever honoured him for; “Mr Ustinov, let your subjects go!” And then came the Frankfurt spring, and the solidarity campaigns, and suddenly the Russians were gone.

“What the hell is Icke wearing?”

Jeffrey’s voice shook him out of his reverie, and he glanced back up at the screen; thanks to the colour screen, they could see that the Ecologist candidate was sporting a turquoise shell-suit as he was interviewed. “He can wear what he wants, he’s only going to wecieve a handful of votes anyhow,” Roy opined, draining his glass and getting up to find another bottle.

Jeffrey snorted as Icke launched into a furious tirade against ‘corporate interests’; the candidate just felt faintly queasy. He’d initially tried to keep his distance from the Barons, of course, but to do politics in Britain these days one needed to lobby them for support. They were keen to speak to him, too; many of them liked the association. It provided glamour, after all. At least in America, the captains of industry were broadly reputable; here, the economic liberalisation of the Stonehouse era had catapulted a whole new group of strange and often extremely disreputable characters to the fore. Webb, Clough, Branson… they were all odd sorts, but had nothing on Big Jim, who was the most powerful of them all.

He’d stayed an evening in Jim’s dreadful Dacha in Glencoe six months earlier; it was all very shabby, considering it belonged to the richest man in Britain. After the stories he’d been told, he was expecting an ogre, or a thug; he hadn’t understood what the fuss was about, to be honest. Perfectly charming man, a little eccentric, that’s all- although the glass eye rings were a little disturbing. They’d spoken for a while, mostly about charity work- Jim raised hundreds of thousands for a variety of good causes, and was heavily involved in the health service- and in the candidate’s view had genuinely bonded when talking about their respective mothers. Thankfully, when he asked Jim if his mother was actually a Duchess, he’d taken it as a joke.

It was really only at the end of the visit that they talked politics, and even then only briefly. Jim had simply taken a drag on his cigar and said, in his sing-song voice, that he liked having the candidate back in Britain. “I’ll do what I can to help you out,” he’d promised, “A lot of people listen to me back home, you know. You’d be surprised; I can get anything. There's nothing I can't get, and there's nothing I can't do. My job in life is to try to help people. Maybe you can help me sometime too.”

The candidate smiled at the memory. A kind man, he thought.

“First results!” Jeffrey exclaimed, and the three men rushed to the television.

“…and in the first round it looks like Charles Windsor will win with considerably more than 50% of the votes cast, immediately placing him in Buckingham Palace without the need for a second round. A very strong vote indeed there, driven it seems by an unexpectedly strong showing for the Prince in the industrial north. So, Professor Bogdanor, why did the polls so badly underestimate his lead?”

Roy broke into applause and drained his glass again; Jeffrey just smirked. “Well done Mr President,” he said, “What did I tell you?”

“Those are much better results than the private polling anticipated,” the candidate beamed. “Where did all those extra votes come-“

He paused, mid-sentence, a terrible realisation forming in his mind. The meeting in Glencoe, the smile, Jeffrey’s serene confidence. Surely not, he thought, not after I campaigned on trust and honesty and British fair play. But what can I do? Do I even want to know if I’m right?

Charles Philip Arthur George Windsor furrowed his eyebrows. “Tell me, Jeffrey-“ he began, then paused and shook his head. “No. Best not.”

He should have been happy. He was happy, to a point. But as he left to make his victory speech, with the champagne corks popping and the singing beginning, the unwelcome thought kept intruding.

Did Jim fix it for me?
Better One King
One of a series of vignettes about alternative British Prime Ministers.
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“And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.”


****

With a crunch of gravel, the Vanguard Staff Car rolled to a halt. Inside, the Air Minister grimaced at the sudden movement, rummaged in his pocket with a shaking hand and extracted a handful of blue pills. He crunched them down, sighing in relief, then took a long gulp from a hipflask, wiping his mouth with his gold braided, powder-blue sleeve. Now only one part of the ritual remained; he pulled a large cigar from an inside pocket, stuck a match and inhaled with pleasure as he felt the cumulative effects of his ‘sovereign remedy’. Now he was prepared for anything.

He left the car, leaning heavily on his swagger stick, and limped to the grand door, his eyes passing over the Tudor stonework. Chequers is more impressive than Chartwell, he conceded, but I would not trade my view of the Weald for anything. The two British Legion officers of the National Constabulary, their black and khaki uniforms immaculately pressed, came to attention as the Air Minister passed through. Idly, he nodded at them- for if one failed to acknowledge the efforts of Tommy Atkins and Jack Tar, especially in a time of national crisis, all their efforts in the last decade had been in vain.

Another man, this time wearing the uniform of an Army colonel, was waiting at the foot of the famous staircase. “They’re up in the Breakfast room, sir”, he remarked, casually; the First Lord smiled in appreciation. “Thank you, Bernard.” A damn good Private Secretary, he thought, even if he is a vain little creature. I must talk to him again about wearing that non-regulation slouch hat.

He climbed the stairs slowly, panting at the effort; even with the pills, the pain was bad. As he did every time his leg troubled him, he thought back to that day near Eupen in ’19. No self-pity, he reminded himself, you only got out of it because that fool Sassoon took the second bullet.  

Catching his breath, he paused to glance at the collection of Cromwellian memorabilia on the landing at the top. His gaze lingered on the Lord Protector’s death mask, as it always did; are we his heirs,  he thought, have we imposed rule by the sword? He shook the notion away; there is no room for doubt in the land of the New.  The formation of the National Government in those dark days of 1927 was undoubtedly not a revolution, and neither was it, despite the bleatings of the liberal press, a coup. The ineffectuality of the ‘old gang’ had simply become too dangerous, recognition of the immense sacrifice offered by the Common Man too long delayed. His mind went back to his visit to Japan the previous year, and what Baron Sadao had said about his hopes for his own nation. Not a revolution; a ‘Windsor Restoration’, he thought, and smiled.

The door to the breakfast room was closed, but he heard voices within and entered without knocking; the PM was never one for excess formality. Four men were lounging around the table, and one, wearing a khaki uniform with the rank of a naval lieutenant displayed on the shoulder, looked up as he entered the room. Even now, after the trials of a decade in power, he was still the handsomest man in England, though perhaps not the man that Yeats had rhapsodised over; the fair hair now had the slightest dusting of grey, but the famous blue eyes were just as piercing as ever. The scar on his cheek, a souvenir of the desperate fighting on the Moselle in the dying days of the War, caught the eye, yet somehow enhanced his beauty rather than detracting from it. “Glad you could join us, old man,” the Prime Minister drawled.

The Air Minister nodded his head in respect and pulled up a chair to sit with the others. Old man, he repeated to himself, ruefully. It was true of course. Of the ‘War Cabinet’, only Fuller was of a similar age, a fellow Victorian; the others were children of the War, disciples of the New. Not for the first time, he thought of Harrow, and the lectures old Porker had given of Hesiod, where the Olympians ruthlessly supplanted their parents the Titans. My generation destroyed the old world, he mused; it is only right that our children have taken the responsibility of building the new.

Silence fell for a moment as he sat, and the Prime Minister leant back in his chair. “Good. Now I can introduce our final guest,” he remarked, and as if on cue, the door flew open to admit a handsome figure in the uniform of an Admiral. There was a shocked pause, and the occupants of the room scrambled to their feet; the new arrival began to laugh, clearly delighted at their consternation. “Please, don’t get up on my account,” the King chuckled, “there’s work to be done and you know I don’t stand on ceremony.”

The Chancellor collapsed back into his chair, taking a drag on his cigarette with a broad smile. “I thought you and the Queen were at Sandringham, sir?”

The King nodded indulgently, finding a chair and dragging it over to the table to sit. “Officially, Tom, I am, and am currently in discussions with the Maraharaja of Bharatpur. A sound boy who won’t breathe a word of my absence; last time I saw him my little Valkyrie was teaching the poor chap how to Lindy Hop. I borrowed a motorcycle to RAF Marham and then took one of the new Meteors for a spin. Nobody need know I’m here, and I expect you not to mention my presence; while we can sit on the papers, rumours can spread and the last thing we need is a war panic.”

There were grunts of agreement around the table. The Prime Minister cleared his throat; “John, if you could do the honours?”

The Secretary of State for War stood, taking a stack of folders containing maps and photographs and passing them around the gathering. “Yesterday evening, our High-Altitude observation Dirigibles observed troop movements around Wupperthal consistent with a partial remobilisation of the Reichswehr. It is my belief that Herr von Blomberg has ordered the imminent re-occupation of the Rhineland; it is an opportune moment after all, what with the unrest in France and the conjunction of Mars and Jupiter from tomorrow morning.”

There was an awkward silence; not the bloody astrology again, John, the Air Minister thought, but at least it gives me the opportunity to seize the moment.

“As you know, gentlemen” he said confidently, “I’ve had the Royal Expeditionary Force at a state of heightened readiness since d'Espèrey and the Lacau fellow- I won’t even try to pronounce his full name- launched their coup d’etat last month. It would not be a difficult matter to respond to such a flagrant breach of the Geneva Treaty.  I could have Leigh-Mallory’s lot dropping on the rooftops of Dusseldorf within twenty-four hours-“

There was a general murmur of disapproval, the King looking particularly stricken. “Surely that’s a bit steep, Winston? We talked with little Willy about this last summer over dinner in Corfu; he asked me how I’d like it if the French banned us from having any troops in Kent. Chap had a point. Personally I feel for the Germans; they’ve had that dreadful Gajda fellow in Prague calling for their blood for years now, and now Desperate Frankie’s going to be doing the same in Paris. And all the while the Reds are building up their forces…”

The Chancellor grunted assent, his moustache bristling. “I agree. Any German action is a reaction to the new regime in France, and in any case the Rhineland is a complete distraction to the real threat to peace in Europe- that’s Dzerzhinsky, not the Reichswehr. Look how quiet the Poles have been lately! The Kaiser is right- it’s only fair for the Germans to reclaim what’s rightfully theirs.”

The Information Minister nodded, thoughtfully. “That tallies with what Mass Observation is telling us about the public mood; although-” he flashed his trademark grin, “-partly that’s because that’s the line of the day.”

The Old Man has been outmanoeuvred again, the Air Minister thought, despondently, his hand automatically feeling his pocket for his pill box; they’ve already made a decision without me and have got Mass Observation onside. All Britons knew how the National Government assiduously monitored their views through the latest scientific techniques; how much more democratic than relying on the imperfect middle men of Parliament! Less known was the Organisation’s clandestine seeding of concepts and phrases helpful to the Government in line with Dr Dicks’ theories of Thought Contagion. The punning phrase “Unity Government” had become ubiquitous since the King’s recent marriage; few outside the War Cabinet realised this was the result of MO agents introducing it into a thousand casual conversations.

The Prime Minister smiled, patting his colleague on the knee; two sets of famously piercing blue eyes met. Not for the first time, the Air Minister recalled the rumours that intermittently swirled round both men; the tales from the PM’s days in Cambridge were well-attested, and well-informed gossip suggested that the Information Minister’s predilection for posing as one of the Working Men went beyond Mass Observation information gathering. How does one know though? he thought. This New World, the world of the Soldier, suits the bond of Achilles and Patroclus.

“Thank you Tom,” the Premier said. “I think we have a consensus then; we will restrict ourselves to a formal statement of concern. The King will return to Sandringham and the Maraharaja, where he will perhaps call the Kaiser to discuss the situation informally. Perhaps, Winston, you could organise some aerial exercises to drive home the point that we retain the capacity to intervene should we have seen fit? There’s a good chap.”

The Air Minister nodded, chastened. “Yes Rupert.” A thought struck him. “What about Parliament?”

The Prime Minister smiled. “What about Parliament, Winston? They’ll have their debate, but the people have spoken- through us. I will not see a drop of blood spilled over this, old chap. Not British, not German. We have lost too much already, you see; and we may need it for the real struggle ahead. Let von Blomberg take back what’s rightfully his, and then let him act as a bulwark to the Bolshiveks.”

He paused, and his smile shifted into something more predatory. “Unless you feel differently?”

The Air Minister shook his head, as the others got up to leave. “No, Rupert” he said, quietly, hands fumbling for his pill case. There is no room for doubt in the land of the New.
An English Heaven
One of a series of vignettes about alternative British Prime Ministers.
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"It's good to share, but sometimes it pays to shaft"

****

“The Prime Minister will see you now, Chancellor,” the Political Assistant said, opening the door leading off from the Cabinet Room. Gordon Brown gave her a venomous stare. Oh, he’ll see me, will he? he thought. How fucking generous of him.

Sweeping past without a word, he marched into the office, barely registering the door being closed behind him. A TV set to Sky was burbling away in the corner, something about the on-going fighting in Macedonia. I’ll have to see if I can find a way to leak what he said about the Albanians the other day, Brown thought, smiling, and sat down in an armchair.

“If this is about the Welfare estimates,” he said, “I’m not budging. I don’t care if Frank tries to go over my head to get more money for his pet schemes- if he wants more support for children’s centres, he can take it from the money he saved from the benefits cap.” He crossed his arms, defiantly.

From behind the desk, the Prime Minister regarded him with what appeared to be smugness, although given his usual expression it was hard to tell.  Look at you, Brown thought with keenly-honed irritation. Fresh from the tanning bed, and the colour of the wall-panelling. You’re even more orange than Hain, if such a thing is possible.

“Nice to see you too Gordon,” he replied, with his trademark drawl. “Actually, this isn’t about Welfare. It’s not even about immigration, though I will bear in mind your paper objecting to ‘British Jobs for British Workers’. No. I wanted to see you for another reason.”

Brown rolled his eyes at the melodrama of it. The Prime Minister, media tart that he was, had always loved his own voice. “Get on with it,” he muttered, and was surprised to see that rarest of things in response- a genuine, almost predatory, Prime Ministerial smile.

“The pre-election reshuffle is next month, and I’m moving you,” he said, bluntly. “I want a clear-out of the Treasury so we can go into the campaign with a fresh approach. You’ve done good work, but any longer in that place and it’ll stagnate. Foreign Office or Home, your choice. I’ll even create an international aid department for you if you like.” He waved his hand, dismissively. “I know you always love giving money to the darkies.”

Brown closed his good eye for a second, and exhaled slowly. The anger was always there in the background, but this? This was something more. White hot rage burned in him. They had always tried to destroy him, of course, to cheat him out of what was his; whether it was the Rectorship, or the seat in Hamilton that the scumbag Robertson stole from under his nose, or….

Bastards.

“I… I… will destroy you for this,” he eventually whispered, breathless with fury. “I’ll go to the backbenches, and I’ll destroy you.”

The Prime Minister smirked. “Calm down Gordon, we’re not in the fucking Godfather. I’m offering you a fair deal. Foreign Secretary would be a step sideways, and a healthy thing for you. You need to get out of the Treasury more, meet new people. Get a girlfriend. It might stop you obsessing over things.”

“You promised me the Treasury!” Brown roared, punctuating each word by banging his fist on the table.

“I didn’t mean in perpetuity! Jesus, Gordon, you’ve been in Number 11 for years now. You’ve had your time. You did the things you wanted; now it’s time to move on. I’m giving you a way out.”  

There was a pause, as Brown seethed. Finally, he shook his head. “No. I know you’ve always hated me. Laughing at me. I’m going to the backbenches. And I’ll have supporters, and we will bring you down.”

The Prime Minister, angry himself now, jabbed his finger at the other man. “Oh, you’ll have supporters, will you?  Who the fuck is going to support you? Not on the backbenches- I don’t give a toss about them- but in Cabinet. Robin hates you, Cherie can hardly stand to be in the same room as you-“ a look flashed across Brown’s face that confirmed the feeling was entirely mutual “- and John… well, John has been asking me to sack you for months. What’s going to happen, are you going to make Clare Chancellor and run the Government as a twosome? You’re like Hitler in his bunker, playing with non-existent armies.”

He sighed. “This is all about ‘94, isn’t it? You could never get over the fact that I won the leadership when John died, while you were too proud to stand yourself. You go on about a deal. What deal? I said you could be Shadow Chancellor were I to become leader. That’s it! And yet you pretend that I gave you control of domestic policy, that I promised I’d stand down after a term to let you take over. All delusions- and even if it was true, which it isn’t, what does it matter? I’m Prime Minister now, not you. I can do whatever the hell I want!”

Brown stared at him, with perfect hatred. Why did people like him? he thought. But they did, and he despised him for it. The idiosyncratic speech, the jerky hand-gestures, the palpable insincerity oozing from every pore of his spray-tanned skin, the chiselled features… Why couldn’t they find substance, gravitas, sincerity, appealing? If only they knew what lay behind the mask. The arrogance, the vanity, the spite… They were already beginning to discover these things, though, and he could speed things along. Yes, he could bring this Government down. It would be a pleasure. He’d show them. He’d show all of them.

“People want a Labour Prime Minister, not… whatever you are,” he muttered venomously. “And they’ll get one, soon enough.”

The Prime Minister barked a laugh. “I met you in 1975. I remember what your views were then. Mine haven't changed. You’ve gone to the right, and I still believe what I believed then. The Left were fools then, and they’re fools now. Why? Because they enjoy losing!”

He leant forward, warming to his theme. “Being on the Left doesn’t win you elections. The average man on the street doesn’t care about social justice! He wants criminals locked up, immigrants out, Europe told to butt out… He reads the Express, not the Guardian! And that’s what I’m giving them, and because of it I won a landslide.”

He jabbed his finger at the Chancellor. “That landslide? That was because of me! Not you! And you know what? I’m going to be the first Labour Prime Minister ever to be re-elected to boot! There’s nothing that Michael Howard can do about that, and there’s certainly nothing that you can do.”

He began to raise his voice; his eyes, shockingly white against his brown skin, bulged from his face. “I’ve experienced it all, Gordon. There’s nothing that scares me now. Not the Tories, not those whining shits at the BBC and the Guardian, and least of all you. You know what happened in the 80s, how Militant threw everything they had at me, slashed my tyres, spat at me, tried to destroy my good name, even my sanity! I even thought about quitting for a time, did you know that? But I realised that my Party- my Country- needed me. They couldn’t bring me down then, and you won’t bring me down now. Do you know why?”

He stood angrily, sending his chair tipping backwards. “Because I’m Robert Kilroy-Silk! Do you understand? Robert Kilroy-Silk! I’m the fucking Prime Minister! Robert Kilroy-Silk, First Lord of the Treasury! If you want to take me on, then come and take me.”

The Prime Minister’s voice dropped to a whispered hiss as he leant forwards, his head inches from Brown’s own. “You want to destroy me, Gordon? Well you’d better be careful. Because perhaps, just perhaps, Robert Kilroy-Silk will destroy you first.”

The two men stared at each other for a moment, both shaking with emotion, willing the other to be the first to back down.

Finally, Brown chuckled, turning away. “I don’t care what you say, Robert. You’ve not heard the last of this. I’m going to resign. And then the shit will really hit the tan.” He grinned nastily, and stormed out of the room.

The Prime Minister watched him go, and leant back, stretching, as he thought of the speech he would make upon his re-election. “I’m Robert Kilroy-Silk…” he whispered to himself, as if confirming the thought in his own mind, and smiled.
Share or Shaft?
One of a series of vignettes about alternative British Prime Ministers.
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“Goodbye England's rose/May you ever grow in our hearts”

****

He rose, as the last chords of Thaxted reverberated through the gothic splendour, and carefully made his way down the nave, his head bowed. The only sounds in the Confessor’s Abbey were his slow footsteps. He passed the memorial stones- Darwin, Livingstone, Allenby, the Princess Elizabeth- and realised that She would soon be commemorated with them, perhaps at the far end, by the tombstone with the poppies. It would be fitting, he thought, and the corners of his mouth twitched upwards in the approximation of a smile. England’s Warrior Maid laid alongside England’s Unknown Warrior, their bodies a living sacrifice to the nation.

Finally, he reached the lectern, pulling his notes from his pocket as he did so. He looked up, dimly aware of the congregation before him. Fully half the Abbey was filled with women; the green pullovers of the Land Army intermingled with the khaki fatigues of the Women’s Irregulars and the occasional powder-blue uniform of the female RAF contingent. He looked beyond the Great and the Good, women like Maureen Dunlop, the Angel of Biggin Hill, with fifteen victories to her credit, and eventually his gaze settled on the distant, anguish-stricken face of Annie Kenney, seated in one of the back rows, where nobody might notice her. Even that concession had been resisted by Archbishop Garbett, but it was likely that She would not have disapproved of such caution; She had never been anything but discreet with her proclivities.

“When the death of the Prime Minister was announced to us on that dreadful day one year ago,” he began, slowly, “there struck a deep and solemn note in our lives which, as it resounded far and wide, stilled the clatter and traffic of the War, and made countless millions of human beings pause and look around them. It is not given to human beings, happily for them,” he continued, “to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events. In one phase men seem to have been right, in another they seem to have been wrong. Then again, a few years later, when the perspective of time has lengthened, all stands in a different setting. There is a new proportion. There is another scale of values…”

He had been Her implacable foe in the beginning, of course. The first time he laid eyes on her, She was being manhandled by three policemen for disrupting a speech he was making… when was that? Oh yes, Manchester, a few weeks before Balfour lost his seat in the landslide. Then when he was Home Secretary, She had caused him endless trouble; dynamiting post boxes, sending letter bombs, invading Parliament…. He remembered the day he signed the order for tubes to be inserted down her throat, and also his relief, upon the declaration of War, when She had returned to Britain not to cause trouble, but to encourage women to rally to Crown and Country. The menfolk of Britain breathed easier knowing that her fury was directed against the Germans, rather than them.

His mind continued to wander as he spoke of that day in 1918, when She became the first woman to take her seat in the Commons, and the years following, when She carved out a reputation as a Parliamentarian in her own right. He knew the words he had to say well enough, after all; he had spent weeks crafting them. Her former radical colleagues had called her a traitor for her vociferous opposition to the General Strike, and that was when they had first forged their friendship. He needed copy for the British Gazette; She needed to reach the working women of Britain. The results were electrifying.

“I conceived an admiration for her,” he continued, “as a statesman, and a woman of affairs. I felt the utmost confidence in her upright, inspiring character and outlook and a personal regard-affection I must say-for her beyond my power to express to-day. Her love of country, her respect for its traditions, her power of gauging the tides and currents of its mobile public opinion, were always evident, but, added to these, were the beatings of that generous heart which was always stirred to anger and to action by spectacles of aggression and oppression by the strong against the weak. It is, indeed, a loss, a bitter loss to humanity that those heart-beats are stilled for ever.”

Their stars had declined in the 1930s, though hers had persisted long enough for Ministerial office in the National Government. Neither were in fashion by this point; both seemed like vestiges of a past, more bellicose age. She had entered the political wilderness with good grace, and had never lost Her passion. If anything, Her fervour increased; it was at this time, he knew, when She had found her faith.

“She was sustained not only by her natural buoyancy,” he said, “but by the sincerity of her Christian faith. She feared God and nothing else in the world, and lived every day as if it was the eve of the Second Coming. She was a Godly woman, and recognised absolute evil when she saw it.”

Unlike so many others, was the unspoken implication. He had realised the danger of a resurgent Germany too, of course, but She was the leading proponent of rearmament. For six lonely years they served as Jeremiahs, endlessly warning the nation about the coming storm. Few had listened, until it was too late.

“When war broke out in all its hideous fury, when our own life and survival hung in the balance, she was ready. Not one man in ten millions, let alone a woman, would have taken on such a responsibility as to save the nation, and the world, from Nazi barbarity. Not one in ten millions would have even tried, not one in a generation would have succeeded, not only taking on this task, not only in acting vehemently in it, but in succeeding.”

He remembered the debate after the bombing of Baku, of her passionate speech, of the famous cry that went up- “Speak for England, Christabel!” He knew that she believed her own rhetoric, that she was convinced the end of days was indeed finally here, and that the Beast as foretold in Revelations walked the streets of Berlin. When she spoke of the New Jerusalem, it was not as a metaphor. And when the old guard were finally washed away, and she was installed in Downing St, She had brought him with her, knowing that the nation needed his talents as much as Hers. Every Prime Minister needs a Winnie, She had said. He paused between sentences, and smiled sadly.

“Her conduct in Office,” he continued, “may well be a model and a guide to leaders throughout the world today and also in future generations. We think of her, so faithful in her study and discharge of State affairs; so strong in her devotion to the enduring honour of our country; so self-restrained in her judgments of men and affairs; so uplifted above the clash of party politics, yet so attentive to them; so wise and shrewd in judging between what matters and what does not.”

They had stood together through everything; through the Blitz and the Battle of Britain, through the triumph in Africa, through the disasters of Singapore and Sicily… He had begged her not to go, on that day in the summer of 1943, as the Liberation of Europe began in the flooded fields of the Pas de Calais. In truth, he knew it was futile; had he been Prime Minister, he would have done the same. Only the old King might have been able to stop her, had he survived, but Queen Margaret was too young to stand up to her. And so She went, heedless of the danger, or perhaps welcoming it. Maybe She welcomed the prospect of martyrdom.

He cleared his throat as he reached the peroration. “Mortal existence presented itself to so many at the same moment in its serenity and in its sorrow, in its splendour and in its pain, in its fortitude and in its suffering…”

Suffering. Did She suffer, he thought, when Skorzeny’s men raided the front and brought Her back to Germany as a prize of war? He knew that She had caused Her captors as much consternation and trouble as she had her English gaolers, with her hunger strikes and symbolic protests. Not for her, the slow descent into madness and indolence, like Hess in his hospital ward. She had remained defiant and contemptuous even in her weakened state. He had read the classified transcripts of her interviews with Himmler; they reminded him of the interrogation of Joan of Arc by Henry Beaufort.

“To the end,” he boomed, “she faced her innumerable tasks unflinching. When the Reich crumbled, and Canaris’ Brandenburgers assaulted the fortress of Wewelsburg, she refused to be used as a bargaining chip. She died in battle, like her soldiers, sailors and airmen, who are carrying on their task to the end all over the world. What an enviable death was hers. The tempestuous, restless vitality of a woman who would have scorned the ease of a peaceful retreat ended in glory and martyrdom. She had brought her country through the worst of its perils and the heaviest of its toils. Victory had cast its sure and steady beam upon her. Herr Hitler, now caged in his cell, protests with frantic words and gestures that he only desired peace. What do these ravings and outpourings count before the silence of Christabel Pankhurst’s tomb?”

He paused for a while. “On the day she became Prime Minister,” he eventually continued, “I asked her what she felt. She replied that she felt as if she were walking with destiny, and as if all her past life had been but a preparation for this hour and trial. Therefore, although impatient for the morning she would sleep soundly. She will sleep sounder now that her work is done.”

He lingered for a few seconds, looking out across the congregation once again, then quietly took his notes and descended from the lectern. Sleep soundly, Christabel, he thought.
England's Rose
One of a series of vignettes about alternative British Prime Ministers.
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The Lothian Campaign, 1648 by edthomasten
The Lothian Campaign, 1648
Map showing the campaign in the Scottish borders and Lothian, spring 1648, as well as an inset detailing the battle of Holyrood.
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edthomasten
Ed Thomas
United Kingdom
I like to write- and if inspiration doesn't strike me, I'll do something in photoshop based on whatever it is I'm working on to fire the imagination.
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:iconorphydian:
Orphydian Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
How come you arent yet a member of my group arsmilitaria.deviantart.com/

Are the illustrations your own work?
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:iconkingwillhamii:
KingWillhamII Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2015
Happy Birthday! :D
Here's your gift: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wLYvT… ;)
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:iconyamalama1986:
YamaLama1986 Featured By Owner Edited Jan 5, 2015   Digital Artist
Hi, my name is YamaLama1986, I really like your works, especially your depictions of althistory aircraft and ships.

I was wondering if you would like to work with me to design several alternate history battleship designs for Italy and Spain. For Italy, I'd like an Italian equivalent to the German battleship Bismarck in both size and armament. For Spain I'd like a Spanish equivalent of the German battlecruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst. This is presuming that Italy at the time is influential on Spain's politics and is putting pressure on Spain not to interrupt its "Mare Nostrum" in the Mediterranean with warships as powerful as its own, only allowing one of these warships to operate in the Mediterranean at any given time along with other limits on the Spanish fleet in the Mediterranean though allowing all of them to operate unhindered in the Atlantic as a means to challenge the British. Italy would compensate Spain for this limitation by allowing Spain to build four of these warships to operate unhindered in the Atlantic, alongside Italian battleships and other Italian warships being permitted basing rights in Atlantic Spanish ports and to be able to depart and attack enemy ships from those ports, as a means to challenge the British.

If you do withs to do this, all I ask is that you please do not put flags on these ships, as I am interested in creating an alternate history set of flags for Fascist Italy and Falangist Spain that I would like to display on the ships.
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:iconsaint-tepes:
Saint-Tepes Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
What do you think of this version of your 1940 map?
Do you think its a problem? 
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:iconcommanderevil:
CommanderEvil Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I saw your Fight and Be Right FWR Posters a while ago without knowing where they came from. I'm glad I finally found the source, and intend to keep an eye on your work from now on!
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:icondjaked:
DJaked Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
I love this Fight to be Right series.
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:iconzemplintemplar:
ZemplinTemplar Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2012
Fight and Be Right
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:iconrnyak:
RNYAK Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2011  Hobbyist
These are some great maps, are you on the altrenate history forums?
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:icontombombardier:
TomBombardier Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2011
Excuse me, but did you write "A Shot Heard Round the World"?
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